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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  May 19, 2016 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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it is egyptair flight 804. it departed paris, charles de gaulle airport. it was bound for cairo airport in egypt. it left about 15 minutes late local time in paris, about 1111:09 pam. it was scheduled to land 3:00 a.m. local time in cairo. this is something that obviously did not happen. we're talking about ten, 15 minutes or so prior to the scheduled landing time, that plane disappeared from radar, simply disappeared. it was approximately 260 kilometers north of the seashore. the shoreline there in egypt, in those waters of the mediterranean between greece and cairo. it is a most peculiar situation. there have been varying reports
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as to what has happened. we have the associated press quoting egyptian authorities saying the plane has crashed. however, there is not confirmation specifically to that. there have been various reports. interestingly, this is an area that is heavily covered by radar from a multitude of different countries in the region. so even if egypt radar or egyptair's radar was not working properly, it would have been corroborated by multiple different sources in that area. let's go to our aviation specialist with nbc news, tom costello. tom, with a long good morning to you, i know you've been up following this for quite some time. before the break -- i'm sorry, tom, we've just lost, we'll get him back in just a moment. let's go to greg feith, a former ntsb investigator. i know that tom was making the point. similarities to this crash with that, again, if it is a crash, with that of the egyptair flight
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over the sinai peninsula which crashed killing many, many onboard. over 200, and that was on october 31st of this last year. talk about the similarities there and if you think there are some parallels. >> when you look at it, alex, both airplanes were in the cruise phase of flight. that is the lowest workload for flight crew members. it's basically monitoring systems. the airplane is being operated on autopilot. so there isn't really a lot going on with the airplane from a dynamic standpoint if you will. they were both in radar coverage. there had been normal communications. and then of course both airplanes suddenly disappeared or dropped off radar, and all two-way radio communications were abruptly lost with both aircraft. now, when you look at metrojet and you see the wreckage pattern, the tail had been separated and was well removed
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from the main wreckage, it will be interesting to see when they do find this debris, what kind of wreckage path they have with this because that could also indicate that there was some sort of in-flight explosion possibly due to an explosive device put on the airplane. >> okay. we want to alert everyone that we are getting an official statement. it should be coming to us in about 25 minutes or so at 4:30 a.m. this will be from the french foreign minister, who we understand has briefed families there. we should also note there were 15 french nationals on board this plane, which had 66 souls onboard, the majority of whom were egyptian. 30 of those passengers were egyptian. it had a cabin crew of seven with a total of 66 on board. interestingly also, three egyptair security personnel. greg, what do you know about the implementation of security personnel? is that equivalent to what we have here in the states, air marshals? are they one and the same throughout the world?
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>> they are equivalent, alex. i think egypt has ramped up there security because of these past events, and given the environment that we're operating in especially in that part of the world, i think egypt was trying to increase security. and that is probably the reason why they had three security personnel. we don't know how or where they were sitting in the airplane. the only other reason to have security personnel like we do here in the united states is if we are transporting some sort of prisoner or someone of interest. so it could have been under scrutiny, but most likely this was similar to our federal air marshals flying on this flight. >> okay. so they have to check the passenger manifest. again, these passengers, 56 of whom were not affiliated with the airline as in security or
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crew members although we should note there was one child and two infants, so you're pretty much looking at 53 passengers. there are a number from the middle east. we should say two iraqis, one kuwaiti, one saudi, one sudanese, one algerian as well. how long does it take to do background checks of the passengers onboard a flight under circumstances like this? >> that's a very good question, alex. here in the united states, of course, we have very good security through dhs and tsa. and so the no-fly list and background checks can be done rather expeditiously. the egyptians, it's obvious that, you know, we've seen some past events where that kind of processing and checking and background checking has been lacking. whether they've ramped that up since last year or not or at least the last two years is of interest. i'm sure that the process has
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been started, and we will probably have some information by, you know, probably in the next 24 hours. the thing that's curious to me is that the egyptians immediately, almost immediately after the disappearance of the airplane and the fact that they were starting this investigation, looking for wreckage, is that they declared all of the cargo on the airplane relatively benign, that there was no suspicious cargo. well, first off, if there was suspicious cargo, they should have recognized it before the airplane took off. but, two, for them to come out and say that there was nothing in the cargo, that was kind of -- it was kind of an out-of-place statement this early without anything other than a manifest because while the manifest says that you may have been carrying 600 boxes of blue jeans, you don't know what was in those 600 boxes
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necessarily. they could have said blue jeans, and it could have been something else like 6,000 lithium batteries that were undeclared. we've seen that where we've had undeclared hazardous materials put in boxes that weren't properly marked because the shipper didn't want to pay the exorbitant fees to ship hazardous materials, or there could have been some nefarious stuff in the cargo. so i was kind of taken aback that they actually came out that early and said there was nothing wrong with the cargo. >> well, and again we want to make sure that people know that is being attributed to the officials there at egyptair, who are saying that at this point. but you're right. it does sound rather premature to have done so. and also you're right, greg, you make the point that if there were anything suspicious, that particular item ought to have been removed from the plane before takeoff. let's bring in nbc's tom costello. he is our aviation expert here at the network. tom, you've been following this all night lo.
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37,000 feet. that is the point at which, in that altitude, this plane disappeared. what does that tell you because that seems entirely unique. >> reporter: yes. you know, we don't want to jump to conclusions, but as greg and i were discussing, 37,000 feet is cruise altitude. and almost certainly the plane was on autopilot. this was an airbus a-320. it was built in 2003. very modern aircraft with all of the updates you would imagine given the fact that it is, of course, built in france and being flown by egyptair, and we believe the maintenance done in france as well. a couple of other factoids here. the pilot had 6,100 hours of flying time. that's very respectable. the first officer had about 27 hours of flying time, again respectable. the plane last heard from at about 2:30 a.m. local time, but there m been no distress call whatsoever. and it had just been -- we believe the plane had been serviced in some fashion on wednesday, so yesterday. we don't know the extent of that
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service that might have been performed on the plane, but that's normal. the planes are constantly being checked and rechecked and maybe they do some sort of a minor tweak here and there before you go in for a major overhaul. we believe that this was some sort of a standard routine type of service on the plane. and as you mentioned, alex, this is a very heavily traveled route between paris and cairo, and it's going over some of the most congested airspace in the world. very heavily traveled, and it's full -- the mediterranean sea is full of various navys and their radar equipment and the countries and their radar equipment. i mean there should be no shortage of imagery of this plane if, in fact, it just -- if, in fact, there was a sign of it my point being. in other words, it appears this plane literally just went off the radar at 37,000 feet, and that really only happens in the event of a cataclysmic failure and almost always it's an explosion because, as we've said, planes simply generally
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don't come apart at 37,000 feet given the very modern nature of the composite materials used in constructing a plane. and we are in that neighborhood, unfortunately, that neighborhood in the world where this is all too commonplace, using explosives to either target, take down planes, or else to target civilians. >> a couple points i want to follow up with you, tom. the first being that because of the densely populated area of those waters, we should note that greece has joined the investigation. they have also joined the search and hopefully rescue. we know that they have sent a c-130 plane. they also have a frigate ship in addition to a c-130 on route to replace the one in the air for some time now, looking for any signs. it has been dark when this accident happened. that can certainly hamper recovery efforts. it should be light now, though, as we're looking at it's 10:10 in the morning there cairo time. but another point to bring up with you, tom, is this
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37,000 feet in height. there comes to mind the recollection of the air france flight, the doomed one that went from rio de janeiro to brazil june 1st of 2009. that is a flight that crashed into the atlantic ocean, to the very depths of that ocean as you remember. it took two years for any signs of the official black boxes, recovery boxes, flight recorder data boxes to be recovered because of the depth of the ocean floor where that crashed. but in that case, despite being very high altitude as well, there was at least, once they were able to recover the information, there was a glimmer, at least a partial conversation. they knew they were in trouble, and it was a purely mechanical issue. >> reporter: that's right. so a couple of points. boy, you have a good memory on aircraft aviation things. you should be covering this as well. >> i listen to you, my friend. that's what i do. >> reporter: a couple of points here. first of all, on air france 447, this plane was in an airspace that was not covered by radar.
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so there was no radar track. they didn't know what happened to the plane. it was transmitting data, which is the automated burst of information really pertaining to the technical aspects and performance of the plane, transmitted to airbus headquarters in toulouse, france. that's how they were able to get a feeling for where this plane might have gone down, we're talking about air france 447. but they didn't know the trajectory of the plane and how it was lost. they didn't know that right away. not until they got the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, the black boxes from the bottom of the sea, were they able tody certain that there had been chaos and confusion in the cockpit. different scenario, i believe, than what we're looking at today because there is good radar traffic over the mediterranean sea, there are plenty of radars watching that plane. and it just disappeared, right? it's not as if the plane had a gradual, slow decline to the ocean surface, we believe.
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it just disappeared. that speaks to the notion of the possibility of a bomb, and that's why we've been reiterating that. so now all of those assets that are on the mediterranean sea, all those navys are going to be listening for the pingers of the underwater pingers that are attached to the flight dalt recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, hoping that they can hone in on those signals. >> let's make sure people are aware that, again, there was some confusion earlier, tom, and there were reports that there had been pingers located, at least the sound of them, and that has since been retracted. so we should make clear that we don't have pingers at this point. in terms of official information, let's all stand by as i go to london where nbc's kelly cobiella is standing by. kelly has heard from the french aviation minister. kelly, what have they told families and loved ones of those 15 that were onboard this flight? >> reporter: well, they're sending their condolences obviously alex ate this point.
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we don't know what happened at this point, but the assumption is it didn't end well. so they're sending their condolences and support to the families. 15 french nationals on that plane. and also sending their support to egyptian officials, offering any sort of search and rescue help that they might need from the french. they also mentioned the transport minister said that about those three security officials onboard, remember we were told there were 10 crew members onboard, three of them security officials. transport minister saying this is normal operating practice. probably something that the french don't like to talk about openly, obviously matters of security onboard an airline. this is not something that they're going to advertise, but the transport minister saying this was normal, normal practice. and so to sum up, essentially the french offering their support to egyptians, saying they're cooperating with the egyptian government and offering any sort of air or sea support
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they might need in searching for this missing plane. alex. >> okay. kelly cobiella, thank you for the latest official word that is coming from france. again, relative to those 15 onboard this doomed flight, egyptair flight 804. it took off from charles de gaulle in paris, bound for cairo, egypt. we're going to take a short break everyone. on the other side, we're going to get details about this airbus a-320. it is a workhorse of a plane, commonly used here domestically throughout the united states, flout the world of course. it is french manufactured. we're going to get some details on the plane and its capacity for passengers and the type of technology it holds onboard. we'll do that after a short break. stay with us here on msnbc. in no hurry to make anything happen. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair works... ...in one week. with the... fastest retinol formula available. it's clinically proven to work on fine lines and... ...even deep wrinkles. "one week? that definitely works!"
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welcome back, everyone. at 18 past the hour, 4:00 a.m. here on the east coast, we are still discussing the egyptair flight 804 disappearance over the mediterranean sea. just shy of the shoreline of egypt there. this is a flight that was bound from charles de gaulle paris
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airport, going to cairo. and it happened about six and a half hours ago. it simply disappeared from radar at a height of 37,000 feet at that altitude. let's bring in msnbc's cal perry right now. cal is going to talk about the bigger picture here. we're talking about an area of the world that is just a hotbed. i mean there's really no other way to describe it. and egypt itself has been besieged with some airline problems in this last year. >> an area in total flux, right? take you back to the last halloween, october of last year. there was that metrojet. you'll remember isis was able to bring that out of the sky with an explosion using just a soda can packed with explosives. two months ago, egyptair, the same airline had a disgruntled engineer employee on the airline in sharm el sheikh airport. he was able to hijack a plane and take it to cypress. so there have been some consistent security lapses both in egypt and with this particular airline, certainly for authorities in paris that's going to be where they start this investigation. >> absolutely. you think about paris, cal.
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look at paris. it was the site of the horrible attacks at the end of last year. "charlie hebdo" early in the year prior to that. and then brussels right on the heels of that, in an art. >> security was already heightened at paris airport at l after the brussels attacks and remained at that level and was heightened today when this flight left paris. it's the things that we take for granted that people go after. certainly isis, in their magazine where we saw the picture of that can, this is what they said they're going to do. that they're going to go after the things that people rely on, that they take for granted. air travel first among those lists. we're going to see emergency government meetings in france today. we'll see emergency government meetings in egypt. that is what we are going to be looking at in the next 24 hours as this unfolds. >> we should say we do not know what has brought down this plane. we don't know if it's mechanical failure in a cataclysmic way. we don't know if it is a bomb. but the fact that we are discussing isis, it gives them a level of credibility because we're attributing to them even the possibility, which plays
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right into their hands. >> and it's indicative of what's happening in that region. when you look at that map of where that flight was headed, you have libya to the west, and to the east you have countries like syria that are in total chaos. you have a refugee situation unfolding in those very waters of almost biblical proportions. so it's amazing how this story is sort of bridging two continents. unfortunately, the reality is this is what investigators are going to be looking at because it is this part of the world. >> absolutely. anthony roman is joining us as well. anthony here in the studio. anthony, we should tell people you are a licensed commercial pilot. you also teach aviation, and you have your own company that deals with all sorts of aviatio aviation-related things. my question to is this a-320 plane. i described it earlier as being a work horse. there's probably no one who flies in the united states frequently who hasn't flown on an a-320. it's such a prevalent plane
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throughout all sorts of airlines. talk about its capacity for distance, the number of passengers it can hold and the type of technology onboard that is very advanced, radar and the like. i mean this is a terrific plane despite the fact that this particular plane was manufactured in 2003. >> the a-320 is a technological wonder, alex. it is a fully computerized fly by wire plane. what do we mean by that? simply what we mean is that the pilot's flight controls are not mechanically linked to the flight control surfaces on the wing and the elevator, the small wing on the back of the plane that cause the airplane to go up and down and, on the wing, left and right. they are connected to flight computers. there are actually ten or so primary and backup flight computers that interpret the pilot's inputs to ensure that the pilot is flying the plane correctly. so the computers are actually
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interpreting that information, transferring the data to the flight control surfaces. if they fall within the parameters of the computer code. unlike mechanical linkage plane, a boeing aircraft, for example, that's fly by wire has a backup system with mechanical linkage as well. the airbus does not have that. it's quite a capable airplane, but it has had some problems in the past. and one of those problems can result in a catastrophe air frame failure. that includes these two mechanical linkages that are called iservos. they are basically small rods with an eye type of hook in the back of them that connects a motor to the elevator in the back of the plane. and the elevator is at the back of the small wing, and it allows
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the airplane to go up and down. >> all right. so that means there is one thing that could contribute, as you're saying, to a catastrophic incident like this. but overall, this again is a workhorse and a technologically tremendously advanced plane. >> that's right. >> anthony roman, thank you very much. we'll come back to you after a very short break on msnbc. we'll continue on the other side our coverage of this breaking news of the disappearance of egyptair flight 804 over the mediterranean, bound to cairo from paris.
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welcome back, everyone. as we approach the bottom of the hour here on msnbc with this breaking coverage, we continue to follow the disappearance of egyptair flight 804. it departed from paris charles de gaulle airport. it was bound for cairo and disappeared ten to 15 minutes before its scheduled arrival time. it did take off about 15 minutes late local time there in paris. that was at 11:09 p.m. that would be 5:09 p.m. here eastern time. it has been about -- well, we're approaching seven hours since that plane disappeared from radar at an altitude of 37,000 feet. it happened over the mediterranean, about 160 kilometers just north of the shoreline there in the waters specifically between greece and egypt. greece is assisting in the investigation and in the hopeful recovery of the plane, of any passengers onboard. there have been some unconfirmed
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reports about it being designated as a crash. that was attributed to the associated press. they were quoting egyptian air officials. however, that has been retracted at this point until we know further. let's go to msnbc's cal perry. let's talk about this flight 37,000 feet in an area that has been known to have a lot of aviation issues, particularly of late. egyptair not two months ago was dealing with a disgruntled employee. >> yeah, he actually hijacked the aircraft, managed to get it to cypress, this is also an area of the world where boats are plucking people out of the water. this is where we have seen this refugee crisis unfolding. we've got a graphic here coming from marinetraffic.com. they have sort of labeled themselves the lead erd of marine traffic tracking. this is now you're seeing boats descending on this area where authorities believe this plane could have ended up. again, they're going by the last known communication between the plane and a control tower that we now know was in greece.
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that was the last time this plane was checked through. these are boats that are now sort of descending again on this area of the mediterranean. we understand it to be about 250 kilometers from the shore. >> does it make sense that it's a multinational effort? i mean certainly we have egypt playing a role in this and greece at this point. 3wu given the density you're talking about? >> absolutely. for security reasons the countries that surround the mediterranean are going to have a great deal of interest not only in this search but making sure that other nations' navies and other nations' air forces are not encroaching on their territory. the israelis, for example, have already offered their help in this search and rescue operation. probably more of a symbolic offer frankly, but it gives you an idea of the neighborhood we're talking about, a place where hopefully there's also a lot of secondary military radar systems. >> yeah. okay. stand by if you will, please, cal perry. thank you for that. let's go to msnbc's tom costello, our resident aviation expert here at nbc news. tom, 37,000 foot altitude.
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this plane just goes off the radar. is there a plausible explanation other than something catastrophic, a crash, potentially an explosion onboard, which, again, could be something just mechanical, correct? >> reporter: listen, i think that there are really, at this hour, and let's preface our comments by saying this is all very early. but there are two leading theories at this point, and it's the same leading theories that we were dealing with with the metrojet crash over the sinai. and that is, number one, a catastrophic breakup involving the aircraft because it literally suffers a fracture of the hull, right? there's metal fatigue or composite fatigue, and the plane comes apart at altitude. that's highly unlikely given the fact that this is a relatively new plane. it came off the line in 2003. it's an airbus a-320, a workhorse plane. it's described as one of the safest planes flying today. as you probably heard just a moment ago, 6,600 of these are
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in service right now around the world. and it has a record of safety that is considered on a par with the boeing 777. this is a very well-constructed aircraft. needless to say or nonetheless, that is still one theory. the second theory, a leading theory, would have to be the possibility of an in-flight explosion caused by some sort of an explosive device. and this is the same conversation we were having on october 31st and november 1st and 2nd following the metrojet crash over the sinai when another plane suddenly went off the radar. and same circumstances, and it was later determined by the investigators that, in fact, it was that explosive device packed into that soda can. so i think at this early hour, these are the leading theories. that's not to say that something else couldn't develop. it's not to say there might not be some other explanation. but when you're talking about the realm of pockets and likelihoods, given what we know about aviation, which, by the
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way, you know, aviation is the safest mode of transportation today, period, flat. there's no other mode that even compares. so what we know about aviation and that plane in particular leads us to believe these are the most likely scenarios. and given the neighborhood, give the fact that this country, egypt, and paris, france, are both at war with isis. given isis' track record and al qaeda for that matter, that has to be a leading theory at this hour. >> tom, you mentioned the soda can which was the culprit in the metrojet being brought down on halloween there over the sinai peninsula. and we're taking a look right now. explain to us what we're seeing there. and if you would agree with the speculation that it's somewhat premature for egypt air officials to have already declared the cargo manifest cleared. i mean when you're luking at a soda can, you know -- >> reporter: exactly. i was also concerned by that comment that the cargo manifest was cleared. listen, maybe the manifest was cleared. maybe it looked benign as greg
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feith mentioned, but that doesn't mean that somebody didn't smuggle something into the cargo hold, and it may have been a soda or a soda can that was packed with explosives. i mean that's in the realm of pocket here. we know that they've targeted planes in the past. but let's go back to the photograph, and this is the device that isis in the sinai claims brought down that metrojet liner, and that can, you may recall, had a cut right across the middle of it where they soldered it. they packed it full of, we believe, plastic explosives, and then they soldered it closed. and then on the right, you have the detonators. and according to the isis and the sinai propaganda -- and, again, russian investigators also determined this was an explosive device -- this is what brought down metrojet. that small of an explosive device brought down a modern jet airliner. >> yeah. >> reporter: it packs a tremendous punch. now, that plane -- recall metrojet liner was not cruising at 37,000 feet. it was on a climb-out out of
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sharm el sheikh. so at 37,000 feet, when you're traveling at that kind of a speed and at that altitude, it would be a horrific, sudden, just coming apart of the plane. no time for them to issue any sort of a distress signal or a mayday whatsoever. >> you know what is extraordinary to think about is just the logistics of putting a bomb like that together. you mentioned it had to be packed with some sort of a plastic explosive, and yet it is soldered to together. i mean that is the heat putting that whole thing together. you know, some people look at what isis has been capable of doing, and they'll be attributed with rather rudimentary tactics at times. but that looks actually quite sophisticated to literally pull that off. >> reporter: well, i don't know. i got to tell you i think that, you know, a smart high school kid with the right stuff could do something like that, and there is no shortage of plastic explosives there in the middle
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east and in the sinai and in that region of the world. these are people who are spending their lives, as you know, dedicated to bringing down aircraft or killing people, and they have the internet at their disposal to learn how to do it. i often think to myself, we've been so lucky that we haven't lost more planes or buses or trains or whatever the case may be. i do think it's important for us to remember, however, that this is a stated goal of isis and al qaeda, and they've shown that they are determined to bring down an aircraft. why? because it's a high-value target, and it instills fear, and it causes economic damage as well. so they hit three key options for them. and then of course targeting their enemies, and that could be in theory france or egypt. again, you know, i want to stress, because if you're just joining this conversation, you may have missed the last few hours in which we've talked about automobile the possibilities involving what might have happened to this plane. we're talking about at this
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point what has to be a leading theory. it's not the only theory, but it has to be a leading theory in part because of the neighborhood and the track record of isis and other groups. >> yeah. and, tom, just to clarify, weather at the time seemed to be clear, correct? granted this was what we call here like a red eye flight. it left very, very late. after 11:00 p.m. local time in paris. it was scheduled to land around 3:00 a.m. at the cairo airport. it's flying in the dark, but weather doesn't seem to be a factor? >> you know, at 37,000 feet, it's pretty rare that you're going to have a serious problem with weather at 37,000 feet. i mean, you know, even in the midwest here where we have the terrible thunderstorms and tornadoes and whatnot in the middle of the country, usually planes can divert around bad weather. there's nothing to suggest that there was anything of any -- that could cause any problems at that time early this morning at 2:30 or so in the morning. >> tom costello, thank you very much for that. we're going to take a short
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break, pay a few bills on msnbc as we continue with our broadcasting and the disappearance of egyptair flight 804, which disappeared now coming up on seven hours ago, somewhere just shy of the shoreline there in egypt. it was bound for cairo, having taken off about three and a half hours earlier from paris, france. we'll be right back. stay with us. incredible bladder protection now comes with an incredible double your money back guarantee. always discreet is for bladder leaks and it's drier than poise. try it, love it or get double your money back. always discreet.
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there's only one invokana®. ask your doctor about it by name. welcome back, everyone. at 41 past the hour of the 4:00 on the east coast, 10:41 cairo time, all eyes are trained on cairo as it was the destination for egyptair flight 804, which departed paris some seven hours ago, about 15 minutes late or so behind schedule, but about 10, 15 minutes shy of its scheduled landing time, that plane disappeared over the mediterranean sea, some, oh, 160, 180 nautical miles north of the shoreline there. and it has meant that there are 66 souls that are unaccounted for at this time. there's a lot of speculation as to what has happened. we've been taking some educated guesses given the environment, the location, what may have
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happened, whether it was a technical catastrophe, or it may have been something far more nefario nefarious. we're awaiting some official word. we have yet to hear from the egyptair officials, but nbc's kelly cobiella has heard from the french aviation minister who has talked to the french citizens on this plane. if you would recap and why we have yet to hear from egyptair officials, anything from them? >> reporter: that's right, we've heard from the french foreign minute stefr as well as the transport minister. the french officials holding an emergency meeting in paris this morning with all members of the cabinet. the french foreign minister coming out just within the past hour, lending his support to the families. there are 15 french citizens, french nationals onboard that flight. he said their priority right now is those people and their families and finding this plane. and to that note, pledging any
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and all support egyptian authorities might be willing to accept in terms of search and rescue, boats, planes, helicopters, whatever the egyptians might need. so the french offering their support in terms of finding this plane. also the transport minister saying we've noted, alex, that there were ten crew members. among those ten crew members, three security officials. the transport minister saying that is absolutely normal operating procedure. nothing unusual about that. there have also been reports that there was nothing unusual in the cargo, nothing officially listed in the cargo of that flight that would be dangerous, unusual, possibly cause any sort of security issue. so that's what we're hearing from the french. in terms of the egyptians, we've heard lots of conflicting reports throughout these early-morning hours. some of them from the official social media feeds of egyptair,
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others from news agencies regarding statements that the plane had crashed, that there was some sort of distress signal, possibly an emergency beacon that had been sent out from this plane. all of that has now been denied by egyptian officials. it appears at this point that what they're doing is trying to consolidate the kind of -- the information that's going out to the media. so we're now hearing repeated calls from egyptair to pay attention only to official news releases that they're sending out, and we're holding out now for a press conference that is still about two, two and a half hours away from egyptian authorities on the disappearance of this plane. at this point, officially it is lost. it is not necessarily -- has not officially crashed in terms of the egyptian officials or where the egyptian officials are concerned. so about five hours now, more than five hours into this search, alex, it is broad
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daylight in the mediterranean. we're checking on sea conditions right now, but there were no weather issues overnight. that much we know. >> okay. and, again, you are referencing the egyptian aviation ministry, which is scheduled to have a news conference at 7:30 a.m. eastern time, 1:30 p.m. there local time in cairo. we will await word for that, and thank you as we have you help cover that for us. nbc's kelly cobiella in london. let's go to cal perry, who's here in studio from msnbc. cal, i want to take issue with what kelly talked about, those three security officials. we have been talking about egypt and the extent to which it relies on tourism or did at least prior to the arab spring in 2011. but it's been difficult since then. >> i have to say i'm surprised that there were three security officers on board that plane. but i think i'm more surprised that the french are not surprised. i mean i didn't know that that was going on, but it's certainly an indication as you said of what's been happening in egypt since 2011. this is a country desperate for
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tourism. also to kelly's point where you have different messages coming out from egypt, you have the civilian-run egyptair making their own statements. then you have the military pulling back on those statements, which speaks to what happened in egypt in 2013 when there was a military coup. so the problem in egypt is you have two very different groups trying to put out information. you have the military, and you have the civilian authority. they're trying to get on the same page. we understand the prime minister of egypt arriving in the airport at cairo has gone a long way to sorting that out. but certainly in these early hours, what we're seeing are all of the things that highlight the difficulties that the country of egypt is going through. >> and the security there in egypt, i mean we talk about what happened with egyptair just a couple of months ago when you had a disgruntled employee hijack the plane. and of course metrojet, which was brought down on halloween. that, again, by just a soda can. talk about the security practices in egypt at the air importants. granted, this is a plane coming from paris to cairo. >> you'll remember that video from sharm el sheikh airport of
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people going around the metal detector. we're talking about smaller airports. again, not cairo. cairo is a very large airport where security is supposed to be that of western standards. but in some of these airports in egypt, and certainly sharm el sheikh is one of them, you can tip someone to go aunder rround metal detech tors. >> just so save time. >> that was happening consistently until about six months ago when we had that metrojet crash. the egyptians slammed down hard and said they had fixed those issues. >> i'm curious about the cargo manifest. when a plane lands at any airport, is it completely emptied of the cargo, or could something be put on a plane at one point and then continue on? >> and remain onboard? and this was the fifth leg for this aircraft, which is exactly what folks in paris are going to be looking at. was there anything on board that then remained onboard and made that trip to cairo? and who were the last people to look at that? and to tom costello's point,
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just because the manifest doesn't read that there's anything wrong, that's absolutely no indication of what is actually on that airplane. >> okay. msnbc's cal perry, thank you. with that, we'll ask you to continue standing by for us as we continue with our coverage of the disappearance of egyptair flight 804. it has been some seven hours since that plane disappeared from radar. we have yet to get any conclusive answers of course. that plane's last known position was at 37,000 foot altitude, and it was over the mediterranean sea. not a word from that plane since. stay with us. we'll be right back after a short break. >> i'm alex trebek. if you're age 50 to 85, i have an important message about security. write down the number on your screen, so you can call when i finish. the lock i want to talk to you about isn't the one on your door. this is a lock for your life insurance, a rate lock, that guarantees your rate can never go up at any time, for any reason. but be careful. many policies you see do not have one, but you can get a lifetime rate lock through
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welcome back, everyone. approaching 52 past the hour of 4:00 a.m. here on the east coast. notably we are approaching 11:00 a.m. local time in cairo. all eyes are focused there right now as we continue our coverage of the disappearance of egyptair flight 804. it took off just over seven hours ago now from paris charles de gaulle airport. it was bound for cairo airport, should have landed. but about 15 minutes before that scheduled landing, it simply disappeared from radar at an altitude of about 37,000 feet while flying over the mediterranean not too far offshore, over those waters between greece and egypt. let's go right now to nbc's aviation expert, our tom costello. tom, we want to talk about the a-320 plane. as you've called, it is a workhorse. it is technologically very, very advanced. we should say traditionally it holds about 150 people, though if you go on those low-cost carriers, they can pack in 180. this particular plane had 66 on
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board, ten of which were crew and security members for egyptair. >> that's right. listen, one of these planes takes off somewhere in the world every two and a half seconds. >> wow. >> reporter: i mean this is one of the most widely flown plane ins world. in competes with the boeing 737. it uses this fly by wire technology which airbus really was the pioneer of back in the '80s. it's highly automated. multiple computer redundant systems to maintain -- it doesn't really want the pilots to stray out of the programmed route and flight path and parameters for the plane. if the pilot tries to get out of the normal flight envelope, if it tries to do something that the computers believe could be catastrophic, the computers won't let the pilot do it. they will bring the plane back into a just position. now, if the pilot was really intent on overriding it, he or she could. but the point is this is a plane
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that's built for -- you know, it's interesting. i was at toulouse in france one time talking to the airbus executives. and i said to them, who are you building this plane for? and they said, we're not building it for the captain who graduates from the u.s. air force academy or the french air force. we are building it for the second and third generation pilot who is going to inherit this plane, and they will be in latin america or in africa or the caribbean, and that pilot may not have all the expertise that a highly trained military pilot does. and we want them to be very comfortable in this plane and not to make a silly mistake. so it's designed not for the creme de la creme of pilots but for the average joe pilot. they really want this plane to be a plane that is very, very difficult to screw up in, in other words, and that's why this track record is so good. >> and although we should note that this pilot had a lot of experience on this plane. he had 6275 hours of flying,
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including just 2,100 -- over 2,100 on an airbus itself. i just want to ask you when it comes to autopilot, which is where that plane would have been at 37,000 feet. >> surely. >> cruising altitude. what are pilots doing during that time? what do they do? >> reporter: they're supposed to be monitoring, just watching and monitoring, talking to each other, especially if you are approaching the last, you know, 30 minutes, 45 minutes of your flight. you're preparing to begin your descent into cairo. so they were probably monitoring their systems, having a conversation. it's entirely possible one would get up to use the lavatory while the other one was maintaining flight controls. but it is highly unusual that you would have a plane just go poof, vanish and disappear off the radar at 37,000 feet. because that automated system, because the autopilot is flying the plane with all the redundancies we talked about, it is a very well-made and constructed plane. can i make one last point here?
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i was just doing some research and i was reminded there is another airbus a-320 that had a bombing incident in february in somalia. you may recall blew a hole in the side of the plane. it sucked a passenger out. yet another indication of terrorists determined to hit aviation. >> tom costello, we thank you. we're going to continue our coverage, everybody. stay with us after a short break. msnbc way too early will join you then.
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it has been now eight hours since egyptair flight 804 disappeared from radar. that plane took off from charles de gaulle airport about 11:09 p.m. local time in a 04 disapped from radar. it took off at 11:04 and headed to the cairo airport when it simply vanished. it happened around 2:45 cairo time, just vanishing from radar screens. according to officials, the plane was just about ten miles into egypt air space when it disappeared from the radar trackers and it was reportedly flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet at the time. that would be a high cruising altitude. according to egyptair, there were 56 passengers on board that flight including three children. also seven crew members and three security personnel on board on behalf of egyptair. none of the passengers are reportedly american citizens. right now, egyptian armed forces are conducting search operations with a number of planes and naval unan

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